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Prepare for high-speed Ethernet, says Cisco

Cisco Systems senior vice president and general manager of switching, voice and storage Luca Cafiero has revealed that the top...

Cisco Systems senior vice president and general manager of switching, voice and storage Luca Cafiero has revealed...

that the top speed of Ethernet could hit 40Gbps within the next two years.

Since its origin in 1973, Ethernet has evolved from an invention for stringing together PCs at 4Mbps to the mainstay of corporate Lans, with switches delivering 10Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps or 10Gbps of dedicated bandwidth.

The comments by Cafiero, himself an Ethernet pioneer who co-founded Lan switch supplier Crescendo Communications, provided a glimpse into its future.

A key factor for the success of each new speed of Ethernet now is its cost per bit, said Andy Bechtolsheim, vice president and general manager of the Gigabit Systems Business Unit at Cisco.

Each new Ethernet technology should offer users a lower cost per bit-per-second of speed than did the last one, he said.

Cisco's flagship chassis-based enterprise switch line, the Catalyst 6500 Series, already can support 40Gbps per interface card with the recently introduced Supervisor Engine 720, which boosts total switching capacity to 720Gbps per chassis. Cisco could make a one-port 40Gbps module for a 6500 with the Supervisor Engine 720, Cafiero said.

He did not project when there might be a demand for such a module, but noted that some research facilities already are starting to work with 10Gbps connections to desktops. As the speed of connections to individual clients increases, the "uplinks" that feed the aggregate traffic of many clients up to the backbone of a network tends to follow suit.

Cafiero added that the Catalyst 6500 platform's per-module capacity of 40Gbps could be doubled, but the timing of that speed boost will be determined by customer demand.

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